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Chick Corea, pianist and pioneer of modern jazz, dies aged 79

Chick Corea will leave a legacy that will not be forgotten. His appreciation and exploration of music over his long career earns a place as a true jazz great.

Chick Corea, the man responsible for broadening and shaping jazz fusion and modern piano over a five-decade career, has passed away at age 79. Corea died from a rare form of cancer on Tuesday, February 9.

Chick Corea and fellow jazz pioneer/close friend Herbie Hancock are arguably most well known for their role in establishing the Fender Rhodes as a staple in modern jazz. While initially a sceptic of the electric keyboard, the use of it throughout his career changed popular music forever.

Corea has won a massive 23 Grammys and been nominated 67 times over his expansive career.

Chick Corea pushed the boundaries of jazz and fusion alongside a long list of legendary artists over his long career, performing with the likes of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Corea was surrounded by musical influence from a young age. Born in 1941 near Boston, he was introduced to piano by his father, a Dixieland jazz trumpeter.

After graduating school and entering the gigging scene, it was not long before his skill as a musician came to light. By the late 60s, Corea had joined with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, and performed on several records, including Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way. This collaboration marked the dawn of jazz fusion.

In 1972, Corea formed Return to Forever, a Jazz-rock quartet whose work would prove to be massively influential across both genres.

The announcement of Chick Corea’s passing has resulted in an outcry of grief and sadness, with friends, family and fellow musicians sharing their experiences on social media.

“Chick Corea was the single greatest improvisational musician I have ever played with,” John Mayer posted on his Instagram Page. “Nobody was more open, more finely tuned to the moment, changing his approach with every new offering by the musicians around him. If you hit a wrong note, he’d immediately pick it up and play it as a motif so as to say, “all of this has value, whether you see it or not.” What an immeasurable loss in so many ways.”

It’s very difficult for me to dislike an artist. No matter what he’s creating, the fact that he’s experiencing the joy of creation makes me feel like we’re in a brotherhood of some kind… we’re in it together.” – Chick Corea.